Years ago I had a neighbor who tried to convince me that human beings are plants. She was heavily into her vegan lifestyle and did yoga all the time. Even when she was just standing there talking to you about the weather, she was on one foot. She referred to everyone as either a tree, a flower, a weed or some other type of growth. When people saw her coming, they would typically run the other way.
I felt sorry for her, but I bumped into her years later and she seemed to be doing fine. Great actually.
“Still a plant?” I asked her.
“Oh yes,” she said. “I won’t be feeding for another few hours so I’m getting all of my energy from the sun until then.”
When my good friend Cindy recently suggested we try an all plant diet, naturally I was a little skeptical at first. The last thing I wanted was to turn into a plant person like my old neighbor, but I gave it some thought and decided it was probably the right way to eat. And the truth is I consider myself a vegetarian anyway, aside from all the chicken.
“What are the rules of the diet?” I asked her.
What followed was a very helpful list of what vegetables to buy, how to prepare them in mason jars so your fridge becomes a salad bar and how to make soups and sauces in a Vitamix. I ordered the blender and studied the diet food list. It seemed there were two food groups:
“How much hummus are we allowed?” I asked her.
“¼ cup,” she said.
“So you’re saying the diet is vegetables and ¼ cup hummus?”
“Yes, but you can have as many vegetables as you can eat and you can also have a cup of vegetable soup every day and a vegetable smoothie!” she explained.
“In addition to the vegetables and ¼ cup of hummus, we can have a cup of vegetable soup?” I confirmed.
“Correct. And a little fruit. But no oil. And no salt. The recipes that come with the diet plan are the best part.”
She was right. The recipes are the best part: There are recipes for vegetable sauces that can be poured onto vegetables, recipes for vegetable smoothies, recipes for vegetable dips and dressings, and of course you can always have raw, steamed, baked or roasted vegetables. Some of the recipes even have nuts and seeds.
After the second day, I didn’t feel any better. It may have been all the cups of nutritional yeast I consumed the day before when I ran out of things I was allowed to eat that day. I’d already had my cup of soup and salad with the ¼ cup of hummus and the smoothie that was mostly kale, and it was only 2pm. I had nowhere else to go but the yeast.
On the third day, I made a big pot of soup that I’d planned to portion out for the rest of the week, seeing as how you can only have a cup of soup a day and my pot is so big. What happened though was that I accidentally poured a tiny bit more than a cup into my bowl and thought that two cups was probably what she meant because that amount looked like an actual bowl of soup as opposed to what someone might leave over after eating a bowl of soup. And then it occurred to me that Cindy may have read the diet wrong and that it was more likely that unlimited soup was allowed with both lunch and dinner because vegetable soup is just vegetables and vegetable broth so technically I could have all the soup I could possibly eat.
I was amazed at how good and surprisingly confident I felt knowing I could do the diet if I was allowed unlimited soup. All I ever needed in life was something I could eat too much of. I didn’t think it would be vegetable soup, but I was still grateful. I boiled a big pot of vegetables in vegetable broth and blended and ate them. I did this three times in a row, trying to convince myself I was eating the way nature intended, hoping to get full. Three blenders filled with vegetable soup must have been the magic number.
As a side note: I don’t recommend doing this. Afterwards there were some issues.
On the fourth day, I was craving any kind of flavor other than dirt and started looking around the house for things to eat. I thought chewable Vitamins might be a good snack but the Sugar Bear gummies everyone eats to make their hair grow to the floor make my heart race and how much Vitamin D and Biotin can a person really chew. And then I realized that I could eat as much seasoning as I wanted! Another one of those moments when I knew I could do the diet without failing. I found a bottle of the Kirkland no salt seasoning Cindy called “life changing” and poured it directly into my mouth, and then spit it out in the garbage. That’s how vile seasoning without salt is.
On my fifth day, I decided to go off the diet but still keep my calories low by finding an alternative seasoning I could live with. I bought a bottle of “Everything but the Bagel” and poured a little into my palm and then licked it out of my hand. I did this several hundred times even though I know better than to lick my hands, plus there was tons of salt in it. The reason I ate the seasoning anyway was because I decided the no salt rule was a typo.
On the sixth day, I started to think and feel differently about myself. There was some kind of metamorphosis happening although I wasn’t quite sure what it was. My skin looked more olive and I felt like I was breathing differently. I glanced up at the sun, strangely attracted to its light. I was thirsty all the time and felt an overwhelming need to stretch while wondering how long I could live on broccoli and seasoning.
“Can I have a bite of your salmon?” I asked Dan.
“I thought you’re a vegan now,” he said.
“I was but I need something to absorb my breath. It’s loaded down with powdered garlic and onions.”
“Is that what that was? Your breath?”
“Yes, that was my breath and I’m going to keep it that way. My breath is the only thing left to eat. I’m existing off the fumes.”
I could smell myself talking and I suddenly understood why my vegan neighbor was always saying things that made people run away from her. She was so hungry and miserable, and her breath was so horrible, she was incapable of having a conversation. Her bizarre statements were her only way out.
“Why are you doing this to yourself?” Dan asked.
“Because I’m a plant.”